Monthly Wrap Up | March 2022

The end of March! A month that’s seemed quite long, but also flown by. We had a glimpse into warmer weather and leaving the house without a coat and I am so ready for it! Unfortunately we’re now back to minus figures at night here and it’s even snowing (?!) but crossing my fingers the Spring temperatures return soon. Easter is on the horizon and I’m excited for crafts, chocolate and Easter egg hunts now my eldest can understand the concept a lot more.

In terms of reading, March has been pretty consistent with the rest of 2022 so far. Although, that being said, the majority of books this month seem to have been longer ones. I took part in one blog tour, read eight books and reviewed six.

What I Read

A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle ✰✰✰✰✰

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver ✰✰✰✰

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie ✰✰✰✰

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner ✰✰✰✰

The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page ✰✰✰✰

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney ✰✰✰✰✰

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley ✰✰✰✰

Yinka Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn ✰✰✰✰✰

Book of the month

It was a very difficult choice this month as I read so many fantastic books, but my March book of the month is… Yinka Where is Your Huzband? Yinka is just such a brilliant character. Her world is interesting and her friends and family are such an fabulous group of people. She really finds herself through the course of the novel and it’s just a great reminder of many things but definitely being true to yourself. My review is up very soon for the blog tour so keep an eye out, but for now I’d highly recommend!

Going forward

Next month I have quite a few blog tours so I’ll be focusing on reading those. Following that, I’ll be delving back in to my TBR and reading some of my most anticipated reads that are still sat on my shelf. I really enjoyed Greenwich Park which I had been eager to read for over a year, even before publication, so I want to do more of that!

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,

Book Review | A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle

Thank you to Sarah for sending me a proof copy of A Fatal Crossing in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

November 1924. The Endeavour sets sail to New York with 2,000 passengers – and a killer – on board . . .

When an elderly gentleman is found dead at the foot of a staircase, ship’s officer Timothy Birch is ready to declare it a tragic accident. But James Temple, a strong-minded Scotland Yard inspector, is certain there is more to this misfortune than meets the eye.

Birch agrees to investigate, and the trail quickly leads to the theft of a priceless painting. Its very existence is known only to its owner . . . and the dead man.

With just days remaining until they reach New York, and even Temple’s purpose on board the Endeavour proving increasingly suspicious, Birch’s search for the culprit is fraught with danger.

And all the while, the passengers continue to roam the ship with a killer in their midst . . .

Review

A Fatal Crossing is a clever and compelling murder mystery with an array of secrets and surprising twists.

The narrative starts prior to the body being found as a introduction and then begins on Wednesday 12 November 1924, stretching to Saturday 15 November 1924.

Told through the perspective of Timothy Birch, you really get inside his head and are provided with a lot of background on previous occurrences and explanations for his ‘lone wolf’ personality early on.

As the novel progresses, you learn more of Birch’s history and gain a really full picture of his life, personality and of him in general. I really warmed to him quite quickly and I thought he was a great lead character. A bit of an underdog and something of a hidden gem who didn’t believe in his own worth.

Birch and Temple collectively worked well together as a detective duo. Despite their difference in character, they formed quite an unlikely team.

Right from the first page I was completely immersed in the Endeavour and the happenings onboard. Through the novel’s pages you are taken right through everywhere on the ship, from first class, to the cargo and even the reading room. You get a real feel for the layout which makes the whole novel feel more realistic.

Tom Hindle describes his characters and scenery in such a way that you can practically touch the items, such as the yellow velvet ribbon or the jackets silver buttons, in your mind.

The mystery is written in such a compelling and gripping fashion as you are drip fed clues and information from each witness as Temple and Birch speak with them onboard. I really enjoyed this way of presenting information.

The final twist truly blew me away and I really didn’t see it coming. A proper page turner that I flew through and a book I won’t forget in a hurry!

A truly immersive and clever narrative, with a true feel of being on board a ship in the 1920’s, A Fatal Crossing is out now from Century. You can purchase a copy using either of the links below.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Amazon

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Until next time,

Book Review | Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Synopsis

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

Review

Three Hours is a tense and gripping novel with unexpected twists and a fantastic plot line.

The book is written in three parts and the chapters are headed by time – starting at 9.16 a.m. and concluding after ‘three hours’ when the story and it’s events have unfolded. The pace is quick, as is necessary, and you are quickly hanging off each word to see what happens next.

There’s a great balance of characters within the novel. Hearing from police, teachers and pupils, and also some occasional input from the gunmen, you get a thorough overview of the situation at all times. Although there are a number of standout characters, there were two which really stuck with me – Rafi and Basi. Their sibling relationship was lovely and I really rooted for them. I felt their emotions throughout the novel as they had such a wonderful bond, one which overruled all.

Rosamund Lupton writes brilliantly and the situation is instantly gripping, well described and easy to envisage. Despite the scary circumstances and the dark theme, it was easy to follow and become wrapped up in the goings on.

The theatrical rehearsals of the Macbeth performance and its continual presence throughout the book are interesting. I did a performance of Macbeth in my last year of primary school and played the part of one of the witches. I had a basic understanding of the play but haven’t revisited it since, so the references and explanations were fascinating to me. I felt they really added an extra layer to the story.

On numerous occasions I found myself holding my breath due to the tension! It was so intense and I was so invested and eager to discover which way things might go. I flew through the novel and don’t know why I hadn’t read it sooner!

Three Hours is out now from Viking books. You can purchase a copy of the book using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores.

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Book Review | When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

Thank you to Alexia and Hamish Hamilton for providing me with a proof copy of When We Were Birds in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Darwin is a down-on-his-luck gravedigger, newly arrived in the Trinidadian city of Port Angeles to seek his fortune, young and beautiful and lost. Estranged from his mother and the Rastafari faith she taught him, he is convinced that the father he never met may be waiting for him somewhere amid these bustling streets.

Meanwhile in an old house on a hill, where the city meets the rainforest, Yejide’s mother is dying. And she is leaving behind a legacy that now passes to Yejide: the power to talk to the dead. The women of Yejide’s family are human but also not – descended from corbeau, the black birds that fly east at sunset, taking with them the souls of the dead.

Darwin and Yejide both have something that the other needs. Their destinies are intertwined, and they will find one another in the sprawling, ancient cemetery at the heart of the island, where trouble is brewing…

Rich with magic and wisdom, When We Were Birds is an exuberant masterpiece that conjures and mesmerises on every line. Ayanna Lloyd Banwo weaves an unforgettable story of loss and renewal, darkness and light; a triumphant reckoning with a grief that runs back generations and a defiant, joyful affirmation of hope.

Review

When We Were Birds is a unique and captivating story, with wonderful descriptions and fascinating characters.

There are seven headings in the novel which the chapters fall under. They relate to locations in Trinidad and also the timeline of when things were happening (yesterday, today etc.).

The book focuses on two characters, Darwin and Yejide. Their personalities both felt very realistic from the beginning and all the background information on their lives made them really believable. Both are fascinating for different reasons and have qualities which made me warm to them quickly. Darwin’s gravedigger job I found particularly interesting and I feel like I learnt a lot about something I knew very little about.

The focus around the cemetery bringing together the two characters in a place where people have usually been torn apart I found interesting. Their combined abilities and skills made for an interesting pairing, with an usual backdrop and a unique tale.

The entire ‘cast’ of characters really brought the novel alive and I could easily envisage a lot of the goings on. It really fleshed out the two main characters even further and made them feel alive.

Ayanna Lloyd Banwo’s knowledge of Trinidad and Tobago is evident right from the start. Everything from her descriptions to the dialect really pull together the narrative to create a gloriously clear imagine in your mind as you read. Being written in Trinidadian dialect really enhances the feeling of being there. I felt more involved in the story and had a clearer vision of the country as a result.

When We Were Birds is out now from Hamish Hamilton. You can purchase a copy using the link below and also help to support independent bookstores

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola

Thank you to Alex and Orion for the opportunity to be on the blog tour for The Clockwork Girl and for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Paris, 1750.


In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter. 

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

Review

The Clockwork Girl is a fascinating and original story, filled with intrigue, greed and the unexpected.

The novel is told in three parts, set in three different locations within France: Paris; The Louvre; Versailles. It’s then further broken down into three perspectives: Madeleine; Veronique; Jeanne. Three very different people across very different classes, which allows a broad overview of the situations, occurrences and goings on that really help to build the story. I found it really showcased the difference in their thoughts, days and interests. The contrast is exceptional but also not too surprising given the period and the intense divide between wealthy and poor.

The character of Madeleine, the chambermaid, is the character I found myself rooting for from the beginning. I really felt all of her emotions alongside her: the frustrations; the sadness; the determination and many others. A resilient and captivating character.

Right from the offset you are truly immersed in to the world of the novel. Flung straight into 1750’s France with it’s dire conditions, filthy happenings, struggles and hardships which are prevalent throughout. The writing is incredible and I found the detailed descriptions of smells, in particular, as being the thing that really got my senses going.

The concept of clock making and the creation of mechanical construction is one that I hadn’t given much thought to previously. I found it really interesting, especially placed in historical context. Alongside this, the mystery element within the novel I found particularly engrossing. Missing children and a questionable mechanism provided questions which required answers. When all was I revealed I was definitely taken by surprise!

There were many French words and phrases placed into the writing, primarily in speech. I like this as it made the setting feel more authentic and also tested me a bit from my limited French language knowledge. It’s been years since I practised any but there were a few words I could put meaning to!

Anna Mazzola provides a historical note at the end of the novel which gives a lot of information as to where her inspiration was taken. It also places some of the true events meaning you can weigh them up against the fiction. I also liked the glossary, which was useful in reference to some of the French terms, that I didn’t know or remember, to understand them in their context.

A story that will stay with you, The Clockwork Girl is out tomorrow (3rd March 2022) from Orion. You can purchase a copy using the link below, whilst also helping to support independent bookstores!

Bookshop.org

Note: This is an affiliate link. If you purchase via this link, I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour, details can be found below!

Until next time,

Monthly Wrap Up | February 2022

February has flown by, a month full of storms and most recently heartbreak in the world. The situation in Ukraine and Russia is hard to put into words but everything they’re going through I think of daily. I hope there is a resolution in the immediate future. Here’s to brighter days, and I realise I say this is for two reasons as it will hopefully start to feel like spring this month as we claw back some much longed-for extra daylight hours.

In terms of reading, February has been pretty on par with January but a few less reviews. I took part in one blog tour, read seven books and reviewed three.

What I Read

The Herd by Emily Edwards ✰✰✰

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton ✰✰✰✰

Luster by Raven Leilani

When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

Magpie by Elizabeth Day ✰✰✰

The Appeal by Janice Hallett ✰✰✰✰

The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola

Book of the month

My book of the month for February is… The Clockwork Girl! A fascinating story, with a mystery at its heart. Anna Mazzola writes wonderfully and you truly feel immersed in the greed and dirt of 1750’s France. A truly original tale, and one I highly recommend. My full review will be up tomorrow for the blog tour, so definitely look out for it if you’re interested!

Going forward

This month I have a couple of exciting upcoming releases to read, as well as a couple more that I’ve missed from last month. I’ll be trying to catch up with those and also hopefully fit in a few more reads from my shelf. It’s definitely sometimes difficult to find a balance between highly anticipated reads and books that have been on my shelf a while. (It’s always the best feeling when they fall into the same category!)

As always, a huge thank you to the publishers and authors who provided me with a gifted copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. You’ll find their details tagged in each individual blog post, linked above. 

Until next time,